We’re a little short of sons of York (new or otherwise) around these parts. It is also the middle of our winter. Short days, cold, a lot of wind and rain. What should be ideal writing weather, because the temptation to do anything else is somewhat lessened.
Since when did we let that stop us from being led astray? And the bleakness is depressing, I admit. Still, I am progressing at more or less 2K a day – which is not great for me, but acceptable. But I’ve hit the part of the book which I always struggle with – and struggle not to let my struggle run onto the pages. The slough of despond – around 1/3 in when that has been slog and endless ‘path-decisions’ (if you have character do x at this point, what logical path will they follow if face with Y at a later point). It’s also all about that crucial foreshadowing in the initial segment – which makes the later part of the story flow logically and make sense. Usually by 1/3 I have established the baseline characteristics and inserted at least two of the minimum 3 foreshadow cues I will use.
And you sit down at your desk and think… Would anyone like this story? Can I sell it? Is this just good time thrown after bad? I’m sick of it already and I still have 2/3 go… and so on. If I am going to stick anywhere, this is where it happens. And there is a real risk of if the story is going to trickle off into meh, this where it happens – not because the story is necessarily bad, but because it is very hard not to have my mood reflect in my writing. Look, I am at 25 books now, some of which have done rather well, and I still hit this. If you’re different: great, I am pleased for you. If not: well…These are the things I try. They may not work for you.
Go back to the start and read it. Nine times out of ten I find 1)I actually DO enjoy the story. 2)Now I have that much of a structure, I can see infill points that need doing…. oh look, now they’re done I am 40% done – somehow, mysteriously the the end seems more reachable.
Consider another point of view. So often when I have been ‘stuck’ what is wrong is the missing point of view of another (possibly minor) character. Even if they are not a point-of-view character, a scene with the POV character and them often helps.
Re-read the book or books (or type of book) that inspired you to this story in the first place. No: my story is NOT the same, but it does help to refresh the ‘spirit’ of the book/author I am channeling. I find some of my inspirational authors (Michael Scott Rohan, Roger Zelazny, Tom Sharpe, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien spring to mind). It does affect my ‘voice’ and re-inspires me.
Music too can be huge factor – perhaps just for me, but my house is very silent – I am alone, a long way from any other human (suits me) and, while silence reduces the distraction, it does get to oppressive.
Explain the story to someone else. Maybe even get them to read the first bit (my first drafts are dreadful, I’d rather explain – although I want them to read it). That often shakes it loose for me.
Lastly, go outside, even if it is raining, cold, miserable, and the only job you can find that gives you an excuse is right up there with licking the septic-tank clean. Your imagination needs that noodling time. It also helps that going back to your desk may become attractive!
Do you hit the same thing? If so, how do you move on?